[Blinks] It's been a while...
@Diziet Sma: agreed. Yet, there are customs about not reimbursing too soon (meaning you don't want to create a relationship) or too late (meaning one should only help you if one hasn't need of the money/object/work equivalent for the foreseeable future). This is a social equivalent to interest rate.
I think that's something like what I was getting at: no formal, monetary debt and yet a potential rise or fall in reputation (credit rating) and an expectation with regard to 'manners' (informal contract). Some people might be more forgiving than others (variable interest rates) and the potential penalties for 'late' repayment might extend as far as excommunication (black-listed), forced settlement (bailiffs) or even enforced loss (eye for an eye).
If anyone wants a more interesting economy/trading system without a major overhaul then the following simple approach might be workable:
- Cheapest prices only at distant systems
i.e. no convenient milk run in one jump, so computers at zaonce would be significantly more expensive and or at low availability due to nearby high demand from Lave, Isinor et al., machinery slightly more common due to lower profit margin.
- Don't start in a Cobra Mk III
large cargo space, especially with the extension, encourages early switch to expensive cargoes with higher jump return
- Exploit description strings for additional supply/demand factors
e.g. wulf cutlet or ma corn plantations? cheaper food (as an easy simulation of it's higher value at other systems); love of food blenders? will pay more for luxuries; beset by civil war? firearms and narcotics (medical supplies) please etc.
Now you have to think about what you buy and from where and even in a Mk III you might want to stock up on luxuries or even a few tons of food for a nearby stopping point on your now slightly longer milk run.
There have been so may ideas on this that have come to little that I think the simpler the better, whether for OXP or actual game modification. We already have a wide variety of goods we just rarely exploit that variety.
Bartering could be interesting but also slow and potentially frustrating. After navigating the vagaries of combat (even in the safer systems) it's nice to have a good idea that whatever you make it through with will yield a reliable return.